This week, I’ve been struggling with what it means to be a parent-activist. Because, whether we call ourselves activists or not, that’s part of what comes with the territory when you choose to parent outside the mainstream. Some of that is good–I love it when someone approaches me with compliments or questions about my Baby Hawk carrier, or when someone comments appreciatively on the way I (try to) gently handle my son’s tantrums. I love that I have become a breastfeeding resource not just to my local support group members, but to my friends and family.
But where I struggle is with the uphill battle API faces as an organization committed to challenging, and eventually changing, society’s perception of what the parent-child bond should look like from punitive and controlling to loving, empathic, and respectful. As a relatively new member of the API Volunteer Staff, I catch myself looking at things through rose-colored glasses: if we’ve got intuition and research on our side, AP should be an easy sell!
However, as with any grassroots organization that is trying to affect major cultural change, we have a lot of work ahead of us if we want Attachment Parenting to be a household name.
Every day, as API educates parents about safe sleep practices that promote bonding and breastfeeding–two of Dr. Sears’ original Baby Bs–there are organizations who use fear to motivate families to isolate their children in a crib in a separate room from parents. Every day, as organizations like Lamaze International, API, and BOLD attempt to spread the word about making educated decisions about birth, some members of the medical community attempt to pass resolutions to limit a family’s choices to hospital birth.
These are just two examples of the challenges we face. But, to remind everyone that progress is being made, I’d like to share two little victories:
The first, if you can stand the video and audio being out of sync, is a wonderful video in which Phyllis Diller, fantastic funny lady behind the voices of many children’s cartoon characters–including the Queen in A Bug’s Life, speaks out on the importance of breastfeeding.
She shares her experience of breastfeeding six children (sadly, only five survived infancy), of feeding her NICU baby pumped milk, and her vision that mothers be willing and allowed to take a year off of work after birth so that they can form the important bond of breastfeeding their child. Well done Phyllis!
The second is an article by Tabi Upton of the Chattanooga Times Free Press entitled Parenting Strategies Today, which features Attachment Parenting. Although I do not know the name of the API member who is referenced in this story, I want to thank you–today you were a parent-activist for API, perhaps even without meaning to be, and you not only made a difference, but you made my day!